Universal Code of Conduct/2022 conversation hour summaries
As part of the community outreach process for the ratification vote for the Universal Code of Conduct Enforcement Guideline, the Trust and Safety and Movement Strategy and Governance (MSG) team at Wikimedia Foundation hosted the conversation hour to allow community members to talk directly with relevant stakeholders. In these sessions, Policy team and Universal Code of Conduct Phase 2 Drafting committee (DC) members were present to discuss the matters.
February 4 Edit
The first conversation hour was held on February 4th at 15:00 UTC. There were around 12 participants from more than 5 different languages, projects, and affiliates engaged in a productive dialog with two drafting committee members and T&S policy team members about some of the decisions made by the committee and the next steps in the community review and ratification process. In this session, various users gave their opinions and questions, and the drafting committee and policy team members responded to such content.
The following is a summary of the content exchanged during the conversation, and the comments and questions raised during the session, and answers to those questions.
Ratification/voting process Edit
The Board of Trustees answered to a request from ArbComs about formal community approval of enforcement guidelines (EG) and asked T&S to set up a process for this. Process has been set up, with a simple majority threshold. There is no precedent for this in the movement, but many real life referendums use this.
Ballot will be set up in a way that people voting can provide reasons for their position, and these ideas can be used to create a summary of positions and move into another revision process; if the vote does not pass, then it will go into another revision process and potentially a second vote.
Voting eligibility is parallel to the BoT voting process. This means your account has to have a certain age and you have to have reached a certain number of edits. So you have to be an eligible editor, but wikimedia staff and contractors can vote too, if eligible. Note that There are also eligibility criteria for volunteer developers. More information about the eligibility requirements that can be found on the voter information page on meta.
- Question: Why was the UCoC phase 1 policy text not ratified the same way?
- Answer: The project comes from a Board mandate, and it sets the stage for the community draft, community review, followed by board ratification. At that time, there was no formal request from communities to put through to a formal ratification. Note that the policy itself is not 'set in stone', there will be yearly review of the policy. There is a belief that the policy should be 'out in the wild' to help highlight what issues may be there.
- The Open Letter from Arbcoms was a big factor in the plan to have this vote. Usually there isn't a vote about whether or not to have a policy, but there are votes about the content, or major changes to the policy, usually there is not voting on whether or not to simply have one.
- Followup Q: Communities with no policies would have the UCoC as the default, all conduct policies are usually subjected to a specific vote and the UCoC wouldn't have that and there is concern that the it can only be changed in a year, it doesn't give a reason for it to be valid now although without the vote, people would still be sanctioned by it, and that's not fair since it wouldn't be subjected to a community vote.
- Answer: Any policy will need to be tested in real situations to see what problems there are; it doesn't seem that the UCOC changes much of what is already covered by existing policies. Communities can go above and beyond what is in this policy, but generally what is in there is not that different from existing policies.
- In the Enforcement Guidelines there is also the notion of appealing which will give the people the right to speak their truth. Blocking in itself is an enforcement action and this is the part that the community is getting a chance to ratify or not.
- There was concern that since policy is continuously being revised annually, anyone who gets blocked during the 1st year? Are they treated as the "learning cost"? - this is somehow related to if policy is being revised clearly.
- Comments related to the 50+1% - Since this approach is not being used in the community consensus or voting process.
Enforcement Guidelines (Excluding U4C) Edit
Key Changes - presented by Policy team and Drafting committee members.
In the first phase the committee worked hard to get in their perspectives in before review, during the review phase the drafting committee received the feedback on a biweekly basis, and also received a final newsletter with an amalgamation of all the feedback at the very end of the feedback to ensure we had many sources of truth. The committee worked hard to incorporate this feedback,
During the later part of the drafting work, work was delayed a bit because there were so many changes that were less expected, especially around the inclusion of the U4C committee. Therefore, we decided to focus more on the EG and not the election of the U4C committee. Thus there will be another committee created to oversee the election of the U4C after the ratification vote.
There are a few really important changes - the explicit changes including the section of the U4C, about abusive reports e.g. from LTAs. The committee took in the feedback to the open questions, especially about whether cases handled by ArbComs would be appealable.
We mostly exported the issue to the U4C building committee. No hurry for existing sysops to handling with new mechanism for enforcement.
- Functionaries' responsibility
- Question: Affirmation of the UCOC expected from functionaries; including people that are acting to enforce
- Answer: There was feedback submitted, respect was changed to "acknowledge", users already in that position will have an indefinite time period to acknowledge the UCoC. Important not to leave good faith people, because they have some reservations because they don't like the idea.
- Question: Will the U4C members also have to acknowledge the UCoC?
- Answer: There is a section in the EG draft that states how the UCoC applies to everyone who interacts with the UCoC. Thus U4C members are also subject to the UCoC, but perhaps that needs to be explicit
- Reporting and appeal pathways
- A participant made a note that the processes outlined in the guidelines will have to comply with different local and regional legal requirements with regards to privacy and data protection. Maybe this can be added as sth like a disclaimer when it comes to public reporting.
- Concerns regarding LTA abusing the appealing or reporting pathways, "I am afraid that some LTAs might abuse the reporting system and create havoc by filing tons of bogus violation reports against sysops and editors. They have already been doing that locally."
- The following texts from the enforcement guideline - “Allow those who are processing cases to filter out bad-faith reports” “Appeals are not possible in following cases: for vandalizing IPs, spam-only accounts, and similar cases”
- Training process
- Question: About training, how is this going to be delivered, is this mandatory, what happens if you fail it?
- Answer: Training is a recommendation. The Foundation will be working with the community to build this, and outside experts will also be included in the process.
- Follow-up Q: want to hear views from members of the DC on training
- Answer: (From DC member) The foundation is well suited for the training because of money and staff capacity; it might be a lot to add on to the communities since they already have limited volunteer time. The training is just an extra thing to help people learn more about the UCoC and not necessarily something the foundation can use as a gatekeeper.
- Follow-up Q: Informal case law is just as important as the official policy. In the past WMF has not always done the best job in consulting. What happens, if admins get into the training and say: "No, this is not a case we would close like that?" - how would this be resolved? What will be done if the Foundation does a really thorough consultation with the community before bringing it into implementation? How can we ensure this training is actually useful for communities?
- Answer: (updated on March 1 - updated text is marked bold.) We will not be releasing training that would be useless to the community or that people wouldn't want to participate in. People would be invited to give feedback on curriculum, best practices etc. as well as how to do this right in a community as vast as ours. cannot imagine a world where the training would be so bad. The training is just extra nice stuff that we're adding to this process and it would be very hard to mess it up.
- There are a lot of people who have expertise in how to develop training.
- Pilot training course may help.
- Suggest to set a range - "large, medium, small" projects
- It would also be nice to explore what affiliates can provide for the training, as connectors between WMF and communities.
U4C (Building) committee Edit
The U4C is meant to function as a higher decision making and an alternative to failure by local communities. It is a big ask for the community and a lot of responsibility. We don't want to be building a box for the committee to work on because it is hard to prescribe instructions before we even understand the nature of UCoC violations.
The idea appeared quite late in the drafting process. We already had some ideas about how the U4C could be organized, how the diversity of the committee could be guaranteed, but we realized that it would be better to leave this to another group. The text we drafted is still available and can be used by the building committee.
- Question: following up on not wanting to box in the community, there is a question on right to be heard, where would that be outlined and was there any discussion within the drafting committee on its inclusion
- Answer: We had very long discussions about this. Also about the right to appeal. There were different opinions within the committee - the result of the discussion is the text as it is now. There were concerns that the Right to be Heard could be notoriously abused by LTAs and would not be practical for IP users. It wasn't talked about in the doc, because that's basically a procedure for the U4C committee, so we didn't think it was our place i.e the drafting committee to do this. We wanted to give them things to work on and decide on, and to help them make substantive decisions and not be a toothless committee. It is a complicated issue that we want the U4C committee to work on and not overrule local arbcomms that already have such policies in place.
- Question: there is a section in the "fairness in process" that shows there is an intention to include the right to be heard, was there an intention to try to cover it?
- A: the DC covered it but there was a question on how much detail to include, it was very vague and was left for the U4C to add details
- followup Q: if you read the paragraph and the preceding one, it describes it as a principle and it feels watered down, is IP-based vandalism the main reason to exclude it?
- Answer: from the DC discussions, they did not want to give a blanket "right to be heard" to everyone, there were other reasons such as real threat of life, sockpuppets etc and they decided that having a list of exceptions may not help, so they decided to acknowledge that "right to be heard" exists but to also include it in the scope of the U4C who will be better placed to make such decisions.
- Question: UCoC has imbalanced itself because there are mentions of anonymity for the accuser and also right to be heard, the u4c has a tightly developed scope that doesn't include it which would make it difficult for them to handle it and in its current form it's not balanced and feel like kicking a can along the road
- Answer: was the notion of power within the movement. i.e how can we make sure people who are popular and have made friends within the community are held accountable for their actions, especially in cases of real life threats and harms. eg on sexual assault, when someone comes forward to accuse, there is reputaional and offline harm. We want to help the accuser and the people involved to have a just process for both parties and appeal processes etc. thus if "right to be heard" doesn't exist, you'll still have other opportunities to appeal.
- Question: how can appeal a decision without knowing that person has been done
- Answer: That would mean that the enforcement system isn't functioning well, we're empowering local communities and arbcoms to have baseline standards. the DC wants to make sure that in general you have the right to be heard while protecting the victim's privacy. The DC didn't have the data and ability to make a well informed decision on this because the community did have a discussion on this during consultations but it wasn't extensive.
- Drafting Committee intentionally worked on the more details in the earlier stage, but it left out in the later stage.
- Concern that UCoC Phase 2 massively stresses anonymity all over the place, but doesn't have any protections added. Anonymity is not being balanced within certain groups
- Find a way to address these issues without having to give away the right to be heard as an important principle of fair process.
How UCoC will affect in real-life wiki situations? Edit
At the end of the conversation hour, there was a quick presentation with a brief overview regarding how UCoC will affect local communities. A new global committee (U4C) will be a peer body with other high-level decision making bodies (e.g. Arb/AffCom), they will also investigate systemic failure.
- A final alternative in case of systematic failures by local bodies to enforce the UCoC
- Local bodies and functionaries will continue to perform the work they have been doing already
- Handle complaints, provide resources, and assist with interpretation of the guidelines if anything is unclear
- Develop a process to better support decision making, monitor and assess the effectiveness of UCoC enforcement
Unanswered question from February 4 Edit
Will be published shortly.
February 25 Edit
The second conversation hour was held on February 25th at 12:00 UTC. There were around 15 participants from various languages, projects, and affiliates engaged in a productive dialogue with T&S policy team members about some of the decisions made by the committee and the next steps in the community review and ratification process. In this session, various users gave their opinions and questions, and the drafting committee and policy team members responded to such content.
This session was conducted in a way that T&S policy team staff answered questions based on user chat, etherpad, or pre-submitted questions in addition to providing an opportunity to speak directly. The following is a summary of the content exchanged during the conversation, and the comments and questions raised during the session, and answers to those questions. Note that the conversations were not divided by topic.
Remarks from T&S Policy Edit
Before the session started, there was a brief presentation about the project. Details on this can be found in the February 4 report.
- People talk and make assumptions about the guidelines but they should understand that these are guidelines meant to support the community, but there are also people who do not have privileges to join and access some of these calls due to language barriers etc. and are also not aware of conversations going on on meta but these enforcement guidelines are for everyone
Questions and answers Edit
- Question: It has been more than a year since the Universal Code of Conduct was ratified by BoT (it was ratified on December 9, 2020). What happened with the yearly review that you mentioned during the last meeting? Also, will communities have a chance to participate in the review process?
- Answer: We will do the first review after the EG has been ratified. Some are already looking to UCoC as guidance, but some are not even aware that it exists yet. We don't have enough experience and feedback from the communities to do a review. Communities will definitely be given a chance to review, but we do not have that absolutely laid out in near future. In the end, we need to review how the UCoC works for the communities, so we need their input.
- Question: Related to the Continuous evaluation of the UCoC, being in touch with T&S policy team for the past few weeks. We received the EG text before Christmas and was told it will not be editable before the vote.
- Answer: That is the next part of the iteration. Not possible to update a policy truly continuously; will lead to confusion. Need a stable version at some point. The vote is the next part where changes can be suggested; we are collecting the feedback already now.
- Followup: But it's not what was stated before; it's stated for an annual review. Pretty staggering news at this point. Can't redefine that now.
- Answer: if the Guidelines passed, people would say that the time is now. Process would start to collect experiences now. If it is necessary to change anything before the trial period, that can be done; the Committee will incorporate feedback from the communities. If communities in the vote says this is not enough, that is going to be the next iteration; if not, this will go to the trial phase, and can only be monitored for implementation.
- Question: Do you consider a community that does not have an ArbCom as the "systematic failure"?
- Answer: no, definitely not. We cannot definitely have all communities to have ArbCom, and not having one cannot be said as an example of systematic failure. Communities that do not have ArbComs do have access to the larger global infrastructure.
- Question:Is "peer" body correct? Peers can't override peers, and the U4C has a systemic review capacity
- Answer: What is meant here is that those are people coming from the communities that feel that they are not placed above other community members. The word could be changed, but this is really only about wordsmithing; most importantly, there will be a community body of equal human beings that make decisions on cases brought before them.
- Question: Or a review of every single Right To Be Heard (RTBH) instance by the U4C?
- Answer: That means that you assume this will be changed at some point. The DC also discussed we need a lot of protection for the accused and accusee; they clearly said the RTBH limitation is that if it doesn't hurt the right of the accusee. Can we put that burden to the U4C volunteers? How can we minimize the violation of rights of people involved in this process? I'm not the one to decide; this will be up to the U4C, which will be working closely with Legal. I cannot promise anything; too many different factors that play into this.
- Question: Do we need weakening parts in the guide? (not only how to execute the punishment, but also how to protect yourself from it. If you are in a situation where they complained about you, then reading this text is quite emotionally overwhelming, everything here is only against you) E.g. there will be guides for those who make decisions and for those who send a request, but will there be a guide for the one who complained?
- Answer: This is one of those things that we hope the U4C could work on. Some DC members hoped this to be part of the Guidelines; but is beyond the scope of the DC for that time. We hope some kind of guide would develop and all parts would get support. Our team is also working on some things that could help that.
- Question: The Enwiki community is wondering what if a community does not want UCoC training; and what if the community does not want administrators getting overt affirmation on UCoc?
- Answer: Not everyone needs the training. Those who already hold the rights and the experience dealing with conflicts will not be expected to participate in training or to affirm. Training is for those who need it.
- Question sets related to training.
- Who are the "We" in the “Recommendations for UCoC training for community members” section? The paragraph does not seem to define the meaning of the “We.” Similarly, who is recommending the training to whom?
- Answer: Drafting committee is recommending that this kind of training is installed. They are recommending this one hand to the communities at large, but they also recommend it to the foundation that the foundation should develop this training.
- During the last Conversation Hour, we were advised that the training is just a recommendation. How can you require certain people to attend the training when it is a recommendation?
- Answer: The drafting committee recommended that training should be made mandatory. It did however not make it mandatory immediately. This was partly due to the fact that training materials are not yet available and that it will take some time to provide those materials in sufficient quality and quantity.
- Can each local community decide if we need or do not need the training?
- Answer: Yes, at the moment, it is just a recommendation. And so, Nobody can be forced to take this training at this point in time.
- Who are the "We" in the “Recommendations for UCoC training for community members” section? The paragraph does not seem to define the meaning of the “We.” Similarly, who is recommending the training to whom?
- Question: What if one community (A) is in majority opposed (say 80% against), but the total result of the community vote is in favor (more than 50%)? Will the UCoC be enforced even on community A?
- Answer: Yes. Since this is global policy and if the global community votes yes - we support them. There is no way to opt-out.
- Question: When a community does not have an ArbCom, what should they do? If there is no ArbCom exist, can they appeal directly to U4C?
- Answer: Have to check on the appeal pathways, but i know there was a lot of discussion about this and the basic thing is that they can usually have one way to appeal, but communities have to think about ways to create some sort of arbitration group etc. but in most cases it may have to go to the U4C if the local community doesn't have such structures especially for appeal. Based on wiki-comms, if there was an appeals body, people would have to be able to explain their side if they appeal. if it goes to the U4C, that'll be handled differently for different communities.
- Followup: Given that there is appeal, isn’t that somewhat related to the right to be heard
- Answer: The drafting committee thought same, so there are 2 parts of the draft that they inserted something around the right to be heard, so it is related because people get blocked without a chance for appeal as a right so in some ways it is supporting the right to be heard but in some ways i also understand that it is not enough
- Question: Providing translation resources during processing violation cases is tied to the “right-to-be-heard” and due process for non-English speaking users. I also believe that there are a lot of cases which have not been reported due to the language barrier. Will the foundation provide translation resources for training?
- Answer: this goes beyond rtbh, it is very important for folks to have this to be able to report, especially if they can report to their wiki but not beyond the local community due to language challenges. the foundation has improved in their ability to support different parts of communications with translations and they can do what they can to supply resources and it can't be done in all cases, but we will do our best especially at ensuring that people on the u4c can speak multiple languages and it's also in the EG that the foundation should give translation to the UCoC and its enforcement
- Followup #1: But people will not be able to defend themselves in their native language, because they will not be able to learn about what has been said against them in the first place.
- Answer: It is not a hope that is based on thin glasses, and unicorns and rainbows but hope that is based on the good faith of the communities and finding a good balance between protecting people and giving them a chance to speak about their cases. there is no guarantee but something to look out for, because we're assuming good faith and people on the u4c giving fair judgements but they are still human and fallible in some ways
- Followup #2: How does the WMF ensure that the translation of cases is correct, who was translating before and is their linguistic proficiency assessed professionally? Does the appeal body check the veracity of translations as well? Or do they still rely on the first translations (that might be faulty?)
- Answer: There are no clear guidelines written yet, For example, france vs switzerland vs cote divoire might use words and expressions differently, albeit the same language. We know there are challenges and we will get people with proficiency to provide translation support. In case of conflicts in these translations, the English version shall apply.
- We've had challenges in the past with official language and translation partners which were not as good and we're working hard on improving the quality of translations.
- Question: What happens when mistakes are made by the case handlers? Is any "reparation" planned for the people who were damaged especially in their psychological health? Did this happen before and what was done?
- Answer: Within the German community, some people blocked by ArbComs felt they were treated unfairly but didn't receive reparations but there was also no case to prove that the decision making body made a mistake. Also we can't hold volunteers accountable to these standards and responsibilities. If it is something illegal, that may be different, but with volunteers, I don't see that there is a way to have people who do not make mistakes. so they may happen but hopefully we can have time during the appeals process to correct their mistakes.
- Question: We are going to vote on the content of the Enforcement Guidelines (EG), not on if we are going to have EG or not, right?
- We are going to have them, but your vote determines if they can be implemented as they are of if they need to be changed
- The vote is whether to adopt the guidelines as written So it will be a vote on both the content, and whether to adopt those guidelines
Unanswered question from February 25 Edit
The questions below are answers to pre-submitted questions that were not answered in the conversation due to time constraints.
- Question: Someone asked if we are going to vote on the current EG language as is, without any modifications. I believe this question stems from the fact that so many people have expressed their concerns over the current EG language.
- The board of Trustees has decided that this version is what communities will vote on.
- Question: According to the summaries, the word “affirmation” has been changed to "acknowledge.” Still, I don't see any EG wording changes. What have you changed? Not the EG (the one we are voting on) wording, apparently.
- The wording was changed from “they will respect and adhere” to “they will acknowledge and adhere” to the Universal Code of Conduct.
- Question: The guidelines do not seem to address retaliation by the accused when and after someone files a violation report against him/her (the accused). Ideally, the retaliation issue should be, in my opinion, included in the UCoC under the unacceptable behavior while we can reinforce our firm position against it in the EG.
- This is definitely a valid point to raise for the next iteration of the policy itself and the enforcement guidelines, thank you for bringing it to our attention
March 4 Edit
The third and last conversation hour was held on February 25th at 14:00 UTC. There were around 20 participants from various languages, projects, and affiliates engaged in this session (the largest diversity of wikimedians are represented in this session).
This session was conducted in a way that T&S policy team staff answered questions based on user chat, etherpad, or pre-submitted questions in addition to providing an opportunity to speak directly. The following is a summary of the content exchanged during the conversation, and the comments and questions raised during the session, and answers to those questions.
The topics discussed during this session are include: Translation and other language issues related to EG and ratification materials, Outreach to increasing the awareness of UCoC, Right to be heard, voter eligibility, work of U4C.
Questions and answers Edit
Enforcing the UCoC Edit
- Question: Aren't things that violate UCoC at least violate local policy?
- Answer: on most bigger wikis, this is true. There is some work going on on bigger wikis, but for some of the medium or small wikis, our research showed that there are no local policies which is what started the process of creating the UCoC.
- Question: Regarding the current status of UCoC policy, should off-wiki communication platforms (e.g. IRC channel) need to follow UCoC policy at present? Should local communities and off-wiki communication platforms need to create their own enforcement guideline at present? If not, then what is the current status of UCoC phase 1 policy text?
- Answer: This is a very complex situation that both committees discussed in detail. On one hand, most of these platforms have their own codes of conduct and some of these are covered there. Important point is that for the first time, the UCoC gives a clear indication that if you violate it off wiki, you could still be subject to sanctions on wiki but again, it is a very complex and delicate situation.
- Question: How do you plan to cope with people who have been making assumptions about the proposed guidelines? It seems that many, not all, have not even read the proposed guidelines entirely.
- Answer: We created a summary(abstract) to distill some parts of it to give clarity, please read before making decisions. We've tried through these sessions and other outreach to get everyone aware and informed about this.
- Question: One of the assumptions I hear a lot is that the guidelines would add more burdens and things to do on the advance rights holders’ shoulders (they are just volunteers), and that they also increase more personal liability for the advance rights holders. Is that true? There has been the culture among Wikipedians that Wikipedia is not compulsory and Wikipedia is a volunteer service, but I think their main concern is that the culture might be overridden by the guidelines.
- Answer: The intention is definitely not to put more burden on people or give people legal liabilities they can't take but rather to create a balance and to also give communities autonomy for their projects. Also appeal pathways are built where there are complex cases that they can't handle, they can escalate it to the U4C or if appropriate due to the nature of the case to affiliates or the Foundation to provide support.
- Question: Enforcing UCoC might be difficult due to ambiguous, sometimes untranslatable text. People have asked about the issue, but few to no answers were given at the meta UCoC talk page. From there: "Considering that this rule was mainly developed for non-English communities, it is very strange to see in it very narrow terms that are used only in English." Some statements in UCoC need examples, badly. What does "This includes imposing schemes on content intended to marginalize or ostracize." mean? Who is marginalizing whom and exactly how? What are the "schemes"?
- Probably can't answer here today, creation of the U4C will help clarify certain terms that are not clear and people can ask the U4C for clarification
- Question: We are not creating a criminal court, right? (I meant using some words such as "sentencing" sounds like we are creating a criminal court even though we are creating community rules.)
- Answer: We are thinking about it as a way to improve governance and not anything like state level processes. That is why we have a preventive work section of the EG, we are not trying to create a criminal court, but making decisions to clear up conflicts or for conflicts to not have real health impact on people.
- Question: More on the language: "unfair embarrassment" / "unfair and unjustified reputational harm" / "gratuitous legal action". Can embarrassing someone be fair? Can reputational harm be fair and justified? Is suggesting legal actions other than gratuitous legal actions OK?
- Answer: Those are questions that are asking to interpret the UCoC text, which it's good to think about in the next iteration of the policy if we can find people to clarify this better. But interpretation of the policy text will for the time being mostly handled by local functionaries and the U4C as soon as it is installed.
- Question: Please explain how the voting works, do we have to sign in somewhere or prepare our voting in any way?
- Answer: Anyone who has already been through the board election process knows how eligibility is judged by signing in based on your activity on wiki etc. There is a sample ballot on meta to see how SecurePoll vote looks like.
- Question: Can we, voters, express our opinions/comments in our native language when we vote?
- Answer: Yes, definitely. We will find ways to translate from all languages although especially for minor languages, it may be difficult but we'll try our best to translate. Feel free to leave your comments in any way you think you can express best what you want to say - but think about using a second language you speak, if that is more commonly understood by many readers.
- Question: Will WMF Staff and Contractors with the right to vote *purely* by dint of being staff members be accounted separately (that is, will we know how many staff members voted)?
- Answer: SecurePoll discloses the list of voters during the vote, so as soon as you vote, your username will be added to the vote so you can see how many people with (WMF) voted
- Question: Sanctions are also decided and enforced by WMF and affiliate employees, aren't they?
- Answer: Yes they are, and there's nothing hindering affiliate staff being held to higher standards than the UCoC, it'll mostly be a baseline. same with foundation staff, who probably have higher policies at the moment
- Question: It can be expected that U4C needs to handle a huge number of complicated cases. How can U4C have enough capacity to handle these cases?
- Answer: The phase 2 drafting committee spent time to think about the individual makeup of who should be in the u4c committee, we however realized that it is difficult to build a committee before the ratification. If you have any recommendations or suggestions, kindly reach out to the policy team.
- Question: Under the Policy and precedent section, it states “The U4C does not create new policy and may not amend or change the Universal Code of Conduct.” How about the Enforcement guidelines? Forgive me if I misheard our discussion from the last (Feb 25) meeting, but I thought that someone mentioned that the U4C could amend or change the guidelines. I take voting very seriously. Something that is decided by community-wide voting should be only amended and changed by another community-wide voting. In addition, amending and changing the guidelines are not listed in the U4C’s scope. Would you clarify this as well?
- Answer: The U4C cannot change the guidelines outside of those planned reviews, what they can do is give inputs from their experience i.e data on the cases that they have seen, which may guide what might be considered in the review.
- Question: When you say the next iteration, do you mean the building committee, which is purely U4C related, or another body?
- Answer: There are two parts here. One year after ratification, the UCoC and EG, will be under review, since policy is an ever evolving subject. After ratification ends, before the 1 year is up, the team will start recruiting people to help with the U4C building committee
- Followup: By what point do you commit to provision of the UCOC in the ten biggest languages by? Will they have at least 2 weeks to review it?
- Answer: In the initial translation for UCOC phase 2 doc, we cover some of the major languages used by the community. If you can send a list of some languages that aren't covered, please let us know, or provide a list. Let us know which ones are missing.
- Question: Can we make the building committee more transparent than phase 2? I'd specifically like to suggest that they use Chatham House rules, in the same way as the MCDC committee does, for the sake of transparency.
- Answer: We can take this as the piece of feedback when we compose the Building committee (and its structure).
Community outreach for awareness of UCoC and EG Edit
- Question: What are the procedures of reporting harassment in a small wikis. Like people are complaining to me personally on how they can be able to report a bit of harassment in small wikis like Hausa Wikipedia?
- Answer: Guidelines speak about tools that have to be created by the Foundation that can be used by everyone to use to report cases. We're not sure how this will work but the drafting committee envisioned it to be like a button on every wiki that people can use to report.
- Followup: Can wikis that have their own mechanism prior can opt out and use existing things to enforce UCoC?
- Answer: Wikis can give their community a choice between existing mechanisms and the new reporting system. But they can not completely opt out of the new reporting system.
- Question: How do we reconcile that the majority of people most affected by this may not be able to participate or grasp changes?
- Answer: The team has done a lot of outreach to small/med communities and also working MSG to support translation for all these languages. We've poured some effort into these relative to previous times and it's not an easily solvable problem but we'll also appreciate recommendations.
- The Wikimedia movement is often reinventing wheels and often ambitious relative to other institutions, so we're not perfect but ideas and recommendations on how to make this better are always welcome.
- Question: Could we have sample cases, such as unacceptable conduct(s) which multiple communities share but are not aware of that? If we see more concrete image of what we *universally* share as problematic conduct(s), won't it lower the hesitation to vote, or even think about UCoC excusing oh we don't have full translation in our language?
- Answer: We can start getting examples together, but may not be available before the vote. Unacceptable conduct is currently spelt out in the policy, and we can explore having examples going forward as part of the work the building committee does.
Translation of UCoC and voting materials Edit
- Question: Many documents related to the proposed guidelines have not been translated. For example, the Conversation Hour Summaries document has been partially translated into only Russian and Japanese. How can users who do not understand English make a sound judgment?
- Answer from MSG Team: MSG has facilitators doing translation work, and we are using these resources. But be aware that it is not ONLY their work so they don't spend all of their time on translations. Therefore, there is a high possibility that the translation task will not proceed if the priority is low. We are trying to find a solution for future work.
- Question: As translators, we need eight months, too, don't we? It is a shame we are not given enough time to catch up the high speed of revisions, I am not sure if my translation be good enough
- Answer from MSG Team: We are trying our best to translate the materials soon as possible:) We will be appreciative of all volunteer translators to help with translation work. and sometimes because of the timeline, there is a quick turnaround time too so we understand and try hard to make it easier for everyone.
Right to be heard (RTBH) Edit
- Question: Relatively many people have been engaged to discuss Right to be Heard (RTBH) and it seems that they fear that the current guidelines seem to be biased a bit towards protection of targets of harassment and victim support and that they might not be protecting the accused enough. I know from my own work that platforms have some legal obligations to protect targets of harassment. Can you explain how the Foundation thinks about the balance of the rights of the accused and the rights of the targets of harassment?
- The drafting committee did a lot to add some parts in the policy. Still they decided to only do as much for several reasons: The RTBH was drafted for state level processes and state orgs are usually heavily staffed.State-level processes have thousands of full-time civil servants, judicial officials, and law enforcement personnel. The structures provided by these are simply not scalable in a volunteer environment..
- There is a lack of equivalence of legal interests: while state law can contrast the damage of a victim with an "equivalent" punishment on the perpetrator (imprisonment, fine etc., further social reputation damages) and therefore rehabilitation and a right to be heard are of special importance, this is not the case in the Wikiverse, nor is “equivalent” punishment possible or scalable to implement: the potentially significant damages to a victim (stress, fear, mental/psychological damages or impairments, etc.) are contrasted with the permanent blocking of a usually anonymous account as maximum possible sanction in the Wikiverse and the person behind it can return at any time with a new account. The comparison with legal procedures of a state is very misleading here and raises the question of whether it is not legitimate and correct to give greater weight to victim protection against this background.
- The drafting committee did consider RTBH and added bits of it to the draft, also there was a concern of volunteer time and prioritizing it for other issues. also we need to think about how this manifests in state level government vs wiki, and it's not scalable in our structures and volunteers just do not have the capacity for this.
- Followup: This argument could also apply to the anonymity side of this. we're not saying we should have the same level of safeguards like the court, but also these are not minor issues for wiki platforms but we want to discuss genuine ways to go about this, and we're not advocating for full state level defense/process
- Answer: Answer: For most cases people will have a chance to bring up their point, that's what the drafting com focused on and creating a fairer appeals process
- Question: Regarding the current status of UCoC phase 1 policy text, can local community sentencing someone who violate UCoC policy text per UCoC policy at this moment that UCoC enforcement guideline has not been ratified yet?
- Answer: UCOC phase 1 text was approved and ratified by the BOT. What we're voting on now is the Enforcement guideline of the UCoC, so the UCoC Policy text is currently live and in effect. There already are first cases of administrators blocking users on the basis of the UCoC, sometimes in combination with local policies
- Followup: What about between those two times (between ratification of Phase 1 and ratification of EG), what should we do?
- Answer: Just go ahead and do what you think is the right thing to do, just as you have done in the past, but you can now also look at the UCoC for guidance on what is the right thing to do.
- Question: Does the Board (or any other functionaries at WMF) get Conversation Hour summaries?
- Answer: BOT is interested in how the UCoC project is going as well with leadership. Board members have attended previous Conversation Hours Because these summaries are publicly available, they definitely have access to them, but it's unclear how they structure their time and if they actually read these.